Making Change: Saying No as a Teenage Parent

Saying No as a Teenage Parent

Parenting rates as one of the highest social concerns in Australia, according to the NAB Biggest Issues Facing Australians report, and rightly so. As parents, it’s not always easy to know which opinion around us to pay attention to when it comes to parenting. In the Bible we find that one of God’s first promises is for children: “children, honour your father and mother that it may go well with you and that you may live long.” (Ephesians 6:1-3) And who wouldn’t want that for their children? God reminds us that children are precious, and for that reason, it also tells us how to teach, train and discipline them, so they have a long and happy life!

Today, we ask our friend Teen Expert Michelle Mitchell, winner of the Queensland Inspiring Women Award, to help us with some practical strategies to help our children. Even if it’s hard to admit, teenagers use ways to successfully manipulate their parents into saying YES when they know they should say NO. But Michelle believes that once you know these secrets they are the most predictable of all of teenager’s secrets. Don’t give into a decision you may letter regret, and start using these tips today:

Manipulation Strategy 1. Why Don’t you Trust Me?
When a conversation starts with, “Don’t you trust me?” you are best assuming that something is up and investigate things further. Trust most often becomes the center of a conversation before trouble begins. The very first thing that many teenagers do when they want their own way is pressure their parents into feeling obligated to trust them. I don’t know how many times I have seen, “Why don’t you trust me?” sandwiched between two lies, one about where they will be going and then next about what they will be doing. I suggest you take trust off the table as a bargaining tool. I tell my own kids, “It’s my primary job to protect you, not to trust you.”

Manipulation Strategy 2. 
Presenting an Overly Detailed Story
Teenagers are experts at making up elaborate lies in order to divert attention away from what they are really up to. They have an ability to present a detailed, convincing story fit for an academy award. Always assume you know a portion of what is going on. Assume that teenagers will lie to get their own way once in a while. Always remember that if it doesn’t add up, then it probably isn’t true. Also remember that if you detect one small lie in a story the chances are there are bigger ones also involved.

Manipulation Strategy 3.
 Hiding Communication with Friends
Many years ago, before mobile phones, there was one phone in the middle of the lounge room. Parents could hear every conversation their teenager had with their friends. These days teenage communication is so private. It is easy for teenagers to organise themselves on the internet without their parents even knowing. The down side to technology is that it is much easier for teenagers to hide the truth from their parents.

Manipulation Strategy 4. Making Your Life Miserable
Yes this is a strategy. Teenagers create the “parent pressure cooker” scenario on purpose. They gang up on parents deliberately. When a teenager wants their own way, especially if they have a lot riding on it, they will pull out all stops to see it happen. They know that every human being has a limit and at some point you are likely to crack. They also know your weaknesses and how to use those to their advantage. A group may also be very good at ganging up against one parent who says ‘no’.

Quick Tips:

– Basic philosophy – Safety first, happiness second. They will thank you in the future.
– Realise teenagers can do things which are out of character when they are disappointed or frustrated.
– Look after yourself too. Don’t make their emotions your entire focus.
– Understand how difficult growing up is for them. Listen lots but don’t be sidetracked by empathy.
– Positive personal purpose, friendships and support networks make it easier for teenagers to make good choices for themselves.

by Michelle Mitchell

Michelle worked as a teacher before establishing Youth Excel in 2000, a charity which delivers life skills education and mentoring programs to state, private and alternative learning schools nationwide.With her work been featured on The Today Show, Today Tonight and Channel 10 Morning News, Michelle’s honest and hope-filled approach has seen her help countless teenagers transition successfully into adulthood.